Monday, April 14, 2014

The Poor on Poverty

There has been an awful lot of talk by Republicans about cutting back on programs that help the poor and so-called "entitlements." These "entitlements" are programs we have paid into for years. "Entitlement" suggests getting something for nothing. People receiving these benefits have all put into the pot the same as everyone else.

Let me back track just a little. I have heard the poor called lazy in these discussions and that is why their benefits to help provide food and a roof over their heads and a chance to see a doctor when sick. These people have the image of the poor just sitting back and raking it in. Having become very poor myself I can attest to the fact that you cannot be poor and lazy at the same time. It just takes waaaaaayyy too much work. Let me illuminate those who aren't knowledgeable:

While looking for a job, keeping home and family together, and the usual daily duties that we have all accumulated, we are also filling out mountains of paperwork to prove that we are poor. This does not just happen once and we are set to go. We have to repeatedly fill out the same paperwork every few months to make sure we are really still poor (this is because of the people who do try to abuse the system -- only about 2% of recipients -= and we rail against them not the system). We have meetings we have to wait for. We are in a constant scramble to figure out where the next bit of help will come from.

We spend hours on the phone trying to unscramble the problems that are bound to occur in making sure that any bureaucratic system is bound to encounter. Paperwork gets misplaced, computers get data entered wrong, and things can get inadvertently over-looked. The people who run these systems are only human and are often overworked since their places of employment are understaffed -- often due to budget cuts.

Medicaid didn't cover some treatment you had been advised that they would, or they changed the rules without telling you and won't approve your prescription for insulin, or dropped you for a couple of months for reasons unknown. While the Internet is loaded with pics of people on food stamps (now SNAP) benefits with fridges loaded with food, the truth is that it doesn't quite cover the total food bill. So we scrounge and spend time getting help from food banks that aren't able to keep up with the demand of additional poor and declining donations. In addition to food, those same benefits do not cover such crucial items as toilet paper, tissues, shampoo, soap, or deodorant.

We spend hours on the phone searching for help in other ways. We call churches and other charitable organizations to find help with rent, car repairs, household repairs, clothing, and so forth. These things are not covered in any way by government programs (some assistance if you have children). I am currently face with a list to see if I can find help purchasing new glasses. Apparently the Medicaid coverage on glasses is so small vendors lose money providing such items. So I must find some place that has a charitable partner to help out.

Instead of waging a war on poverty, the one that started during the Depression, there seems to be a faction out there (primarily Republican) who are out to wage a war on the poor. Most of these people also seem to be Christians. They are Christians who seem to ignore the parts of the Bible where we are encouraged to help the poor. We are taught to have compassion for those less fortunate. However the love and compassion for others for these people only extends to those who don't need help other than a ride to work or when moving.

Let me be clear here. I have been looking for a job for more than two years. I have been hit with a slew of health issues (seven surgeries in six months). And I work everyday. Not just Monday through Friday. I work seven days a week writing for two websites. Since this is freelance, this work is not covered by minimum wage laws. I love writing and doing this work, but it just doesn't pay anywhere close enough to live on. So I keep looking for a job. At least a part time job to help pay the bills minimally. Because of health issues I can't work on my feet or I would be serving up fast food in an instant to get my income going.

Being poor is not some sort of free ride for people who don't want to work. We work. We work hard. For the most part we are people who want a job and will take one if offered. These programs are not an "entitlement." I have paid into them with my tax dollars for over 30 years. They are not an "entitlement," they are a safety net for when things go south. Thank God it is there. And thank God most of you will never need to use it.

I don't ask for pity. I ask for respect and to not be judged adversely just because I have hit a REALLY rough patch in my life. We need these programs and NOT for lazy people. If I hear anyone calling the poor lazy again I am going to have to take them out (verbally).

1 comment:

  1. Try Zenni Optical for your eyeglasses. I too am poor and they are VERY inexpensive...